Comedian Howie Mandel played it relatively straight when he was impetuous Dr. Wayne Fiscus on St. Elsewhere, but his stand-up act contains lots of loony babble and crazy props: Think of Steve Martin’s old stage routines and remove the wit, and you’ve got Howie.
The best thing about this special is that it offers a slightly toned-down Mandel — he’s a lot easier to take. Summer is a pseudo-documentary about the comic’s concert tour last summer. Chunks of performances from all over the country are interspersed with backstage footage that’s supposed to be funny in an absurd way: Howie chatting with the eternally gold-chained Mr. T in a hotel room; Howie getting pointers from a veteran stage manager in the Catskills (he tells Mandel to ”always keep moving like Joel Grey”); Howie taking his road crew out for an overnight camping trip. None of it is very amusing, but Howie Spent Our Summer does prove that Mandel, who treats everyone with the same calm bemusement, isn’t a complete jerk. C